Okay, quick show of hands: Who remembers 2017's Wonder? Sweet little movie, Owen Wilson, Julia Roberts, Jacob Tremblay? Kid has facial anomalies, kid overcomes prejudiced society, kid is declared a “wonder,” all is well?
Okay, now, show of hands: Who watched that movie and thought “Damn, there are just not enough Nazis in this thing?”
That’s the question apparently powering the new trailer for White Bird: A Wonder Story, a film that bills itself as a prequel/spin-off of the original Wonder—except that now the camera is following bully Julian (Bryce Gheisar, who is, as far as we can tell, literally the only person returning from the first film) as his grandmother Helen Mirren attempts to break him of his crueler habits by…talking about her experiences as a young Jewish girl in the Holocaust.
To be fair, director Marc Forster (Quantum Of Solace) and screenwriter Mark Bomback are sort of following in the footsteps of Wonder author R.J. Palacio, who expanded the world of her bestselling 2012 novel Wonder with a short story collection that introduced a number of Wonder-adjacent characters, including Julian’s grandmother, before expanding her story out into the graphic novel White Bird. But Palacio can’t be blamed for the decision to fill the trailer for this new movie with a bunch of clips of the old movie , apparently so that you’ll go “Oh yeah, Wonder!” before suddenly twisting to lay on a thick layer of anti-Semitism from the Hitler Youth.
For what it’s worth, White Bird looks like a perfectly sweet movie of that type, with Young Grandma falling for a boy who also faces discrimination for being disabled. It’s just that swerve that’s screwing us up; it’s not like Wonder has such massive name recognition that anyone’s going to go see this things hoping for a random Mandy Patinkin cameo, right? Can someone explain this marketing to us?
Anyway: White Bird: A Wonder Story is set to arrive in theaters on October 14.